overview of a picnic set up with sparkling water and bread

How I Plan My Lunches on Campus

It can be daunting to plan out every dayespecially with the risk inherent in using public transit as a commuter student. I used to think to myselfwhat use is there in planning out every ten minute block of my day, when it seems the subway faces an unexpected delay twice a week? But there is an elegance to routine, for it inspiresin me, anywaythe belief that I am the master of my own fate.

I enjoy planning events and I enjoy slotting activities into my calendar. But one of the things I find most daunting to plan is what to eat. The abundance of food trucks along St. George Street, where Robarts and Sid Smith sit along, can make food more accessible for many students. With options from Chinese food to poutine, there are many options for lunch, snack, and dinner to pick up between classes. There are also many cafes on campus. Take the Second Cup on the ground floor of Sidney Smith or the Starbucks in the food court of Robarts Library, for instance. But both options can introduce long lines, so why not consider brining your own food?

The courtyard facing Innis Cafe

There are many common areas where you can enjoy food purchased at a U of T cafe or food you brought from home. Take the Innis Cafe, for instance. There is an indoor sitting area with power plugs for charging your devices and a small courtyard (with tables!) just outside where you can enjoy some fresh air. Just past the order counter of the Innis Cafe, the room to the right has a sink to rinse utensils and a microwave to heat up your food.

innis cafe microwave
Innis Cafe, with the seating area in the background

But packed lunch doesn't have to be boring. On warm weathered days, I enjoy having picnics on the lawn by Old Vic. It doesn't take two to picnicI sometimes enjoy picnics by myself. I might have a sandwich in one hand and a book in another, or I might snack on charcuterie on a checkered blanket. Picnics are a great way to add some variety into your school day. They are also affordable date and excursion ideas.

Lunch can be as much as a celebratory picnic planned days in advance, or an impromptu falafel speed-eating contest while I dart from one end of the campus to a class on the other end. Lunch, to me, is a time of refuge from whatever activity I had been partaking in. It is a time to recharge and to rest. On campus, on most days, I prefer to have light lunches to stay energized for whatever class or activity I have afterward, and to have a larger dinner at home to look forward to.

What is your approach to packing and/or picking a lunch to have when you're on campus?

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